Walker: Palmer and Joseph Won't be on the Bengals Sideline in 2012

Whoa, 2012? We're getting a little ahead of ourselves aren't we? Well, not necessarily. The 2011 season is in jeopardy from the current lockout and while it's improbable that we won't lose the entire season, it's certainly possible. Because of that, the next football game we see could be played in 2012.

The other reason that we're talking about 2012 is ESPN's AFC North blogger, James Walker, recently had a Q&A session with All Pro Blogger and former Bengal defensive tackle John Thornton. The fifth and final question was which of the following current Bengals would not be on the sidelines in Bengals uniforms in 2012: Carson Palmer, Johnathan Joseph, Cedric Benson or Leon Hall.

Walker's answer, as you could see from the title of this article, was Palmer and Joseph.

Definitely Palmer and Joseph. In fact, I don’t think either player will be in a Bengals uniform this upcoming season. I’m convinced at this point Joseph would have to take a deal below market value to stay in Cincinnati. If so-so cornerbacks like Stanford Routt are getting $10 million per season, what is Joseph’s worth? The Bengals are only paying one player this year (Palmer at $11.5 million) that kind of money and don’t intend on doing that for Joseph or anybody else.

As for Joseph, we reported in February that Champ Bailey's new four-year $43 million contract could be a good "measuring stick" for Joseph to use on what he feels he deserves. Stanford Routt is another good example of a cornerback who is getting paid what Joseph should feel he deserves.

The Bengals will likely be unwilling to pay over $10 million a year for Joseph, even if he deserves that kind of cash. It's just not their style. The only hope that Bengals fans have is that Joseph will want to stay in Cincinnati for less money than he could get somewhere else. Walker says that happens with players in the AFC North, but it doesn't happen with the Bengals.

As for Palmer, well, we all know the story and the story goes like this: he wants out.

With Palmer, according to the people I’ve talked to, in his mind he’s done in Cincinnati. Palmer has left the city, put his house on the market and doesn’t plan on coming back. I do think there is a chance Palmer gets the itch to return for the love of the game, and that is what the Bengals are hoping for. I’ve seen players before get emotional immediately after the season and consider retirement. I remember standing next to Ed Reed just last year after Baltimore’s playoff loss to the Indianapolis Colts, and he seemed sincere about hanging up the cleats. Then, football season comes around and that natural urge to do something they’ve loved since childhood returns. But I don’t know how big that urge is for Palmer. I’ve been around Palmer most of his career, and he’s never come off as a person who absolutely needs football in his life. The Bengals seem willing to put that theory to the test. So it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

No James, it won't be interesting. It's already done. I don't see Palmer returning. In his eight-year professional career, he has not once, through more losing seasons than winning ones, said anything negative about anybody. He has taken all the blame, even when things weren't necessarily his fault, and kept his mouth shut when we all know he had to be frustrated. Even though he might not be the vocal leader we see in Drew Brees, Palmer's style of shouldering the blame and saving his teammates from being thrown under the bus is still a form of leadership. A guy like that doesn't back down.

Even though he's never stated publicly that he wants out or he'll retire, he's never denied it publicly either. Mike Brown may be a tough guy to negotiate with but it's clear that Palmer has made up his mind and I'd be willing to bet that he can be just as tough.

So for one guy to be on the sideline, the Bengals would have to shell out a boat-load of money and for the other they'll have to convince him that the Bengals will do whatever they can to win. Palmer's been a Bengal for less than a decade. I've followed them much longer and they haven't convinced me yet.

Yeah, I agree with Walker on this one.

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